MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

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open roader
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MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:55 pm

I am in the process of building up a NOS 2008 Giant Trance frame with 2nd gen. Maestro suspension that I have purchased quite cheaply.

Thus far I have to play with and have spent :-

2 x pairs of pre-existing custom built TWE 26" MTB wheels various rim widths from 19mm to 32mm
4 pairs of pre- existing tyres from various slicks through to Kenda Small Block 8's & Maxxis Crossmarks
NOS 2008 size 18" all alloy frame and matching NOS shock for the grand spend of $375
'As New' condition Fox 32 120mm travel fork - paid $450

So, essentialy - without contact points included I have a close to all new frameset which has cost me $825

This bike will be a first ever dual suspension ride for me, (have ridden hardtail MTB over this stuff before) to be ridden gently, mostly solo (or with one riding mate) on my local Forrest trails, gravel tracks near home and on farmland where I work and occasional lazy social rail trail rides.

I have spent significantly less money on this build thus far and have a healthy budget if required. I'm not keen on 2nd hand for MTB running gear unless I know the source which is made of unobtainium in my case. I've had plenty of experience with a mixed Deore XT and SLX 9 x 3 groupset on my hardtail (now going onto my partner's MTB) and found the shifting excellent and brakes adequate - but that was braking on bitumen from speeds that I will not be holding on a trail.

I have two options as I see it.
1) Spend circa $500/$600 on a discounted 1 x 11 Shimano SLX full groupset

2) Spend double that amount and then some on XT or even XTR.

If I become truly enamored with trail riding chances are I'll want to upgrade my frame (& wheels) in X years time, hence I'm thinking a higher spec. groupset now might be a better long term investment. However, having said that I am fastidious about my bike maintenance and clean my bikes for sheer home time recreation and considering I intend to ride sparingly (distances) and conservatively with no competitions / no radical drop off type stuff - maybe the current model SLX level will see me through several years and transfer nicely to a nice high spec carbon dual suspension brand X frame in the future.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby bychosis » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:10 pm

I've been using SLX shifter for years, no problems. I did have them mated to an XT rear mech though. SLX cranks are fine too. I originally bought the SLX instead of XT because of the colours :).

IMO SLX does the job just fine and if money was an issue (it often is for me) I'd happily go SLX over XT. I've never used XTR for comparison, too much $ there for very little extra benefit.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:41 pm

Many thanks - we have similar experience with SLX then in so far as my hardtail had SLX shifters mated to XT derailleurs front and rear which I found perfectly acceptable in terms of shifting + Deore XT cranks which still look new aside from the minor alloy edge / polish marks on the teeth.

Maybe I need to look at a mixed groupset again and deals on individual parts. There seems to be enough info on current level Shimano mix and matching although the spec. I and II a/b options with the shifters is something I'm not quite on top of yet
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby Duck! » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:22 pm

You'd do better with XT (or better still, XTR) shifter & SLX everything else than with XT derailleur - the single biggest real-world difference between the groups by a big margin is the shifter feel.

To be honest though, with the 26" wheels my belief is that you're better off with a 3x10 system; you spend the majority of the time in the 32T middle ring which works supremely well with a small wheel at the back, and you treat the big & small rings as range-extenders at both ends of the spectrum. Plus having a tighter cassette gives you a much better useful mid-range spread where you need it most.

The problem with 1x is that it if you spec a mid-sized chainring you lose both ends of the gear range, or if you try to claw some back with a dinner plate cassette you get big holes in the middle; a small ring to get the bottom-end wall-climbers throws out the top-end, while a bigger ring loses the bottom end. 2x is worse, because you have one ring that's too small most of the time, and one that is too big most of the time, and a mid-range that as a result gets sprayed all over the place so you're continually shifting between rings. For "Trail" riding, which is really XC with a tad more lumpy capability, and especially around Forrest, you want as much gearing versatility as you can get. I'd be going for a M7000-10 SLX group, but with M780 XT shifters. For a bit more fine-tuning look at a previous-generation crank with 24-32-42T rings, or even an older "9-sp." model with 22-32-44T rings. The newer generation 3x cranks are geared, if you'll excuse the pun, toward bigger wheels, with a 22-30-40T ring set, so you lose that oh-so-sweet-for-26" 32T middle.

Don't spec gear on a 26er with a view to carrying over to something later. Gearing will be out of whack due to the different rollout of larger wheels, brake lines, particularly rear will be out of whack due to a bigger-wheeled frame by necessity being longer and taller, so in reality very little will carry over well.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:24 pm

Cheers Duck, more (wholesome) food for thought. I understand the 2 x chain ring conundrum - never being in the Goldilocks zone.

I ride my road bikes with a Camapg 11 sp 12-27. For a relatively high cadence rider like me, it has an awkward gearing gap somewhere in the midrange cogs. I have learned to get over this hump by extending my cadence tolerance - I'm wondering if I could get over the lumps in the gearing transition in an 11sp Shimano 11-42t cassette?

However, your wheel size / roll out arguments make perfect sense..............damn it.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby Duck! » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:22 pm

The 11-42 11-sp. has an extra tooth jump somewhere in the middle over an 11-36 10-sp. (I think it goes 21-24 rather than 21-23), but then stays that one tooth out of line up to 37, then chucks the big one on the back. The 11-40 option does a smilar thing against the 11-34 10-sp. (mid-range on that thing is phenomenal! - got it on a couple of my wheels). Although they're still there (or actually bigger due to the size of the cassette), the gear jumps are less noticeable on MTB because of the much more varied terrain. Plus you're more focused on not bouncing off trees so you pay less heed to the gear progression.

I'm still riding 26" with 3x10, so can relate to a lot of what you're thinking about. I rice XC, which to my mindset means a bit of everything (but not too techy on the descents,'cos I only have 100mm travel), so I want gearing to do it all. I rarely wish I had lower than the 24/36 ratio (but an 11-38 11-sp. would be damn good), the mid-range on offer across the 11-36 with 32T ring is supremely useful, and the 42T big ring is there to open the taps on open trails.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby bychosis » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:13 am

I don't really notice the gear gals in 1x11, but it's a while since I rode 3x9 and haven't done 3x10 - skipped 10spd. My 26" now runs 36 to 11-42 and I think the spread of gears is fine. Yes, I am in the top of the cassette on the flat, but the low gearing is low enough that I don't often use the 42tooth. 1x9 was definitely a bit lacking in range, but I do prefer the simplicity of shifting 1x provides.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:22 am

Decisions, decisions..........

I know I use my 34t small ring on my roadies more and morethese days - (being sure not to crosschain onto the two outer rings) but as Duck points out, the helter skelter nature of a trail surface really eliminates cadence consistancy and precise gearing.

I still have my hardtail together with 3 x 9. Might have to go out and count some teeth and ride it accordingly in the back paddock to see what gives gearing wise.

I'm not a powerful rider, I rely upon higher cadence and the use of momentum to keep me going over the bumps. I'm wondering why Shimano dont make a 22t /32t 11 speed double crank because I have a hunch 32t and 12t would be rarely used in the bush and 22t would see the 34 & 36t cogs as purely bale out gears or never used.

I'll get back on the old bike and see what gearing I use over a familiar course.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby bychosis » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:26 am

That's how I worked out 1x9 was OK. Bought a med cage derailleur by mistake. Left the old bike in the middle ring for a couple of rides, then the new bike got built without a front mech. I did get a wider range cassette when I did it though. Went from 11-28 to 11-34 9spd and kept the 32tooth front ring. The calcs showed I dropped a couple of gears at each end, but I rarely used those anyway. I also rode the 11-28 9spd for a while on local rides to 'harden up' a bit and would switch to the 11-34 for enduro events for those longer hills when my legs were complaining.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:12 pm

Just thawed out from a silly 45 min. punishment session over rocky paddocks and down farm tracks through the hail and freezing cold wind (things we do........)

My old SLX/ Deore triple set up has a 22/32/44 triple crank. I've always ridden a pair of 11-34t 9 speed cassettes.

From my Antarctic blast ride this morning I find the 22 front ring ridiculously easy pedaling up the hills - I don't think I've ever used the 34t cog on the 22 front ring and rarely the next cog up from the the 34t. I spent most time on the 32 tooth mid front ring - maybe 80% of the ride and used nearly all the cassette cogs except the 11t and the 34t. The 44 front ring is too large for anything other than the bitumen - a significant step up from the 32 tooth mid ring. I found myself back shifting a few cogs every time I lifted onto the big 44 tooth ring and never got close to using the first 3 cogs from 11t upward.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby rangersac » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Given what you've described in terms of the experience with the 3 x 9 drivetrain it sounds like a 1 x 11 will suit you pretty well. Sure you lose bottom end of the cassette speed, but unless you have some really long straight descents, or are interested in XC racing, spinning out isn't much of an issue. I have a 32T oval - 11-42 cassette on my 26" dually and I can go up everything that I could manage on the old 42/32/24 -11-34 9 speed setup. Sure the gaps in the cassette are larger, but again since I'm not racing maintaining the perfect cadence doesn't worry me. Grab a second hand triple crank or spider and then all you need is chainring, cassette, chain and shifter. The XT shifter is definitely nicer than the 11 speed SLX as it has a shorter, more defined action, but functionally there's no difference in performance between an SLX an XT drivetrain.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby bychosis » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:47 pm

You might be able to pick up an XT 'mini groupset' for a 1x11 conversion. I bought one for $2xx - shifter, derailleur, cassette. Can't remember whether it was closer to $200 or $300 though. Then you an buy a narrow wide chainring and use it on some other cranks. Of course brakes are also needed too, but it might save some money over the full XT kit and be 'better value' than full SLX
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby open roader » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:14 pm

Looking at gear inches calculations, I tend to have required just a little over 53 inches to go fast and about 18.5 inches to climb.

A 1 x 11 set up with a 11-42 cassette gives me plenty at the go fast end but falls short of the 22 tooth small chain ring with the 32 t cog at the back.

From this deduction,I I opted for a 1 x 11 set up I'd need either a larger cog or two down the end or a 30 tooth front ring. Time to surf the net and see if these exist.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby Duck! » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:15 pm

Shimano produce an 11-46 11-sp. cassette. Only the last sprocket differs from the 11-42, therefore you have a filthy great 9T jump from 1st to the 37T 2nd gear, instead of the slightly less filthy 5T, which is somewhat in proportion at that sort of sprocket size.

1x chainrings rannge in size from 30T to 36T.
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Re: MTB groupset selection strategy for new bike build

Postby theMISSIONARY » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:00 pm

i put a cheap almost not used 2x10 Deore setup on my 2004 NRS1 and i put together from the parts bin a 3x9 Sram X7,X9 group set for my 2005 Trance.

IF i was to get a new drive train for my 2016 Reign i would go Boxone or Shimano probably 1x11 or very maybe 2x11

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